My sister forwarded the email to me and suggested that I blog about it, but I didn’t think it was important enough. I figure if I have to see ads on the Internet, they may as well be targeted to my interests. It turns out that our online activity affects a lot more than just the ads that are displayed on our screens.
One of the most eye-opening talks I heard at TEDx Waterloo wasn’t a live speaker, but a video by Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble. He explained that Google, Facebook, and other sites keep track of what we view online, even when we’re not logged into their site, and use this information to filter the information we see.
In other words, although personalization may be convenient at times, there are much more serious implications. In short, it means that we’re most likely to find content that supports our existing views than to open our minds by uncovering new information. I strongly suggest that you take 9 minutes to watch the video for yourself.
Just before the video was shown, Sarah Williams demonstrated how urban planners can use mobile check-ins on Facebook and Foursquare to understand how people feel about the cities they’re in.
It was fascinating, but it also made me wonder just WHO has access to my information and WHAT are they doing with it? We have become so accustomed to sharing the details of our lives online that it will be difficult to change our habits, but you can be sure I’ll be thinking twice before I post my next status update.
How about you?
Photo by James Bastow